Think you don’t qualify for financial aid? That's cray.

By Kimaya Raje
03/15/2017
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The government offers over $150 billion in financial aid every year, but almost half of students don't apply. Why? Because they don’t think they qualify. THAT'S CRAY! The truth is that nearly all students qualify for federal financial aid. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines your eligibility for federal grants, loans, and work-study. That’s why it’s seriously important for you to apply! Here’s what you may be eligible for.

Federal grants

Grants are a form of financial aid that you don’t have to repay — essentially, it’s free money! There are four types of federal grants.

  1. The Federal Pell Grant is available to undergraduates based on financial need. The maximum award amount is $5,815 per year. That’s over half of the tuition of an average in-state public college!
  2. The government also offers a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) for undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need. If your college offers the FSEOG, you may be eligible for anywhere between $100-$4,000 in aid per year through this grant.
  3. If you want to be a teacher, the government offers the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) To be eligible for this grant of up to $4,000 per year, you must meet a minimum GPA requirement and agree to teach in a high-need area that serves low-income families within eight years of graduation.
  4. For children with a parent or legal guardian who died in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11, the government offers the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. The award amount and eligibility requirements are similar to the Federal Pell Grant, but you don’t have to meet the Expected Family Contribution Additionally, recipients must have been under 24 or enrolled in college when their parent or guardian died.

The government provides a lot of grant money to help students pay for college, so make sure to apply!

Federal Work-Study

Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who are awarded financial aid may also be eligible for Federal Work-Study. Work-study offers college students part-time jobs, on and off campus. The great thing about work-study is that you may be able to find a job that’s in your field of study and schedule it around your classes. The total hours you can work depends on your financial need. Work-study is run by the school, so check with your college’s financial aid office for details.

Federal loans

Loans are another form of financial aid. Unlike grants, federal loans must be repaid with interest. There are five types of federal loans.

  1. Direct Subsidized Loans for undergraduates who have financial need. The cool thing about a subsidized loan is that the government pays for your interest while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate. Amount you can borrow: $5,500-$12,500 per year, depending on your financial aid eligibility.
  2. Direct Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who don’t necessarily demonstrate financial need. The interest on an unsubsidized loan starts accruing right away. Amount you can borrow: $5,500-$12,500 per year, depending on your eligibility.
  3. Direct PLUS Loans for graduate and professional students or parents of dependent undergraduate students. Amount you can borrow: up to the cost of attendance minus financial aid.
  4. Direct Consolidation Loans, which combine all the federal student loans you’re eligible for into a single loan. You can apply for this after you graduate.
  5. The Federal Perkins Loan Program, for undergraduates who have financial need. This is a low-interest loan offered directly through the school. Amount you can borrow: up to $5,500 per year.

But, remember, these loans must be repaid with interest, so first apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible (and keep applying every month for as long as you’re in school). If you decide to take out a loan, make sure to research and fully understand the terms. If you have any questions, contact your loan provider or financial aid office.

With so many types of financial aid and so much money at stake, make sure you apply for it right away! The FAFSA opens every year on Oct. 1 and some funds are available on a first come, first served basis, so to get a chance at the most money, submit it as soon as possible. Don’t be scared off by the long application — a little time can save you thousands of dollars!

There are millions of scholarships out there. But you don’t have to spend a million hours looking for them. Use our Scholarship Match to instantly find the ones that are perfect for you. And if financial aid and scholarships aren't enough, use our LoanFinder to help cover your college costs.

About the author

Kimaya R.Kimaya is our 2016 Flavor of the Month Scholarship winner. She is a biological science major at Cornell University and likes to read, sing Disney songs, and watch Netflix in her free time.

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